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Goodbye, Huddler (Everywhere)


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#21 of 43 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted June 20 2014 - 07:19 AM

Those MIT guys are pretty sharp, as you'd expect from having gone to school at the East Coast's version of Rose Hulman ;)(RHIT '93 :D)

I went to RH for 3 weeks during a summer excursion exercise from IU. Had to do with the science behind art. At the time computer graphic arts was new...and RH had the first program in the Midwest.I was ahead of the curve as I had a Kaypro transportable(color monitor) and a fast printer. It could do a 10 page paper while you ate dinner...(To keep up with the tangent, Dave. Have you seen Accepted? Home of "the sandwiches" )

#22 of 43 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted June 20 2014 - 01:26 PM

I went to RH for 3 weeks during a summer excursion exercise from IU. Had to do with the science behind art. At the time computer graphic arts was new...and RH had the first program in the Midwest.I was ahead of the curve as I had a Kaypro transportable(color monitor) and a fast printer. It could do a 10 page paper while you ate dinner...(To keep up with the tangent, Dave. Have you seen Accepted? Home of "the sandwiches" )

I haven't seen "Accepted". Does it reference Rose?

 

There was some neat (at the time) ray-tracing work being done when I was there. One guy would sometimes work on his program in the NeXT lab where I was doing some programming or classwork.



#23 of 43 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted June 20 2014 - 03:15 PM

No...they don't reference Rose...But the school is...South Harman Institute of Technology...Mascot being a sandwich...Justin Long and Jonah Hill are in it.

#24 of 43 OFFLINE   mylan

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Posted June 23 2014 - 10:26 AM

A new version of V bulletin, it's been a rough changeover so far.
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#25 of 43 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted July 04 2014 - 10:50 PM

Huddler isn't gone per se, they actually owned several sites, including AVS (and no, they never disclosed to us that they bought them, even when we were on their platform).  They sold all the sites they owned to Vertical Scope who put them onto vB since all their other sites are vB based.  Your guess is as good as mine why they sold their bread and butter sites, and while I have my guess I don't want to speculate in public.  Sites that were on Huddler that were owned by others (like HTF was) are still on Huddler, although several have followed HTFs lead in leaving.  Even though we still have a ways to go, I'm very glad to be where we are today.



#26 of 43 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted July 05 2014 - 11:43 AM

Adam,

 

Interesting. I didn't know Dave Bott had sold AVS.

Let alone to Huddler, who now sold it through again apparently.

 

Well, well.

 

 

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#27 of 43 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted July 05 2014 - 12:14 PM

Adam,

 

Interesting. I didn't know Dave Bott had sold AVS.

Let alone to Huddler, who now sold it through again apparently.

 

Well, well.

 

 

Cees

Yes, David sold Huddler for more than just walking around money.  Rumor has it they wanted it badly, as a proof of concept.  I'll let you reach your own conclusions as to if it proved their concept or not.  I don't want to speak for any other owner but I was miffed when I found out after we left that they had actually purchased a competing site and hadn't told us.  They said they were brining on AVS and were going to use it to create their own ad network and it would help raise revenue for HTF (which it didn't).  They never said that they were buying AVS.  That just didn't sit right with me.



#28 of 43 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 05 2014 - 12:24 PM

To take that one step further...

 

When we negotiated a deal with Huddler, we were promised no competing

sites would be brought onboard.  We would be an exclusive HT site.

 

Less than a year later they were attempting to talk to David Bott about bringing

AVS aboard.

 

They totally blind-sighted us on purchasing AVS.  They essentially had two similar

sites on their platform that they were competing against each other.  We had absolutely

no knowledge this was going on.

 

Can't speak for David Bott, but I have the impression that he went through some really

bad times with Huddler and some promises were broken along the way.  It was quite

sad to see how he lost AVS to a company he thought would take it to the next level, 

and in the end, saw that company (Huddler) sell it to another company (Verticalscope).

 

I believe, right now, Home Theater Forum is one of the last remaining privately

owned HT forums out there.

 

Really sad that those years were totally wasted, filled with frustration and loss. However,

since moving off of Huddler we are seeing traffic and opportunities that we never had

on that platform.


 

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#29 of 43 OFFLINE   schan1269

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Posted July 05 2014 - 12:26 PM

Wonder if that coincided with when I openly made fun of AVS becoming...DENONISGODforumAnd my banning.

#30 of 43 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 05 2014 - 12:35 PM

Wonder if that coincided with when I openly made fun of AVS becoming...DENONISGODforumAnd my banning.

 

I think AVS banned a lot of good people, they ended up on forums like this one and it's their loss.


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#31 of 43 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted July 05 2014 - 12:40 PM

AVS Forum started out as a captive house forum for the AV Science supplies and consulting company.  I bought a few things from them circa the year 2000, including a screen and my first ATSC tuner (RCA DTC100 IRC).  So to some extent it always was a "company owned" forum.


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#32 of 43 OFFLINE   jauburn

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Posted August 26 2014 - 04:14 AM

I've read this thread with interest--and I signed up here just to join the conversation and perhaps add something that might be of interest.Huddler approached me about my forum of the time (I've since sold it). I think it was in 2011, maybe 2010. The company was actually doing the equivalent of cold-calling in those days...sending out e-mail inquiries to forums in which it was interested. As it happened, I had been interested in getting out from under the burden of running and growing my forum while holding down a full-time job or two on the side, so I entertained Huddler's advances. As it happened, members of the Huddler team--one of the Gill brothers and an associate named Alejandro--were going to be in my town, so we arranged a meeting.Prior to the meeting, Huddler told me about its business model. Essentially the company was most interested in converting proven forums to its platform, running the forums from its servers (leased, I suppose), heavily monetizing the forums, and keeping the owner and perhaps any associates on as admins to keep the community alive. Huddler examined the forum's financials and promised, after conversion, a baseline monthly payment equal to the average ad revenue that came in before the conversion. After the conversion, in addition to the baseline payment, Huddler would split the advertising revenue 60/40 with the owner. Huddler kept 60.Huddler's rep trotted out the bar graphs and charts of expected community and revenue gain after conversion. I took all of these with a huge grain of salt. In fact, having been in the software industry myself for about 20 years, I took everything from Huddler with a huge grain of salt. The grain of salt got even bigger after I took a close look at Huddler's software itself. It was excruciatingly slow, buggy, and user feedback from the forums so far converted was mostly negative. I could see my users screaming loudly after the conversion.Nevertheless, I was interested in getting out from under the forum, so I asked Huddler whether it would be interested in buying the forum outright. My thinking was twofold: first, I wasn't interested in hanging around for too long after the sale, as I was burned out, and second, I felt that if Huddler actually drank its own post-conversion kool-aid regarding future glory (which I doubted), then the company would surely be even more thrilled to actually *own* the forum than just to be a part owner.So I was surprised when Huddler said it would be willing to buy the forum outright. I was not so surprised, though, when its proposed purchase price, which was generous (VC money in young Silicon Valley hands means relatively little, I figured), was structured over two years. I was interested in an outright sale, with minimal involvement after a reasonable handover period (3 months). That's why I haggled a bit on the price. Careful guy that I am, I figured that, given Huddler's unknown track record and the current lousy condition of its software, I might only ever see the first year's money (initial payment). In other words, being the crusty former dot-com employee that I was, I had seen kool-aid of all flavors, and I was surprised by nothing. These young Huddler guys reminded me of so many before them, and they were cut from the same mold, so I trusted their business model barely a whit.Terms finally agreed-upon, I asked them to produce a sales contract, and my lawyer would look it over. The contract never came. Not too long afterwards, I learned that Alejandro, the bright young man from the Huddler team, had left the company. Bad sign, I thought. If things were so peachy at Huddler, why would he leave?In any case, that was pretty much the end of my involvement with Huddler. I've kept an eye on the forums under the company's control over the ensuing years, and I've been pleasantly surprised to see improved performance and a nice mobile implementation. But there were always a lot of red flags around Huddler, for me. That's why the only way I was willing to do business with them was as a seller, with them the full buyer. I didn't like the revenue-share model, not least because I had no idea whether the company would be in business for the long haul, and I suspected it wouldn't. Looks like I was right on that count. I guess you say in the crazy world of computers long enough, you learn a thing or two.

#33 of 43 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 26 2014 - 05:14 AM

Namakagan,

 

Thanks for sharing your story.  As I read through your words I knew already what

the outcome would be.

 

Towards the end, we knew the kind of people we were working for, and as a result,

knew we had to get out as soon as possible.

 

And, yes, Huddler reps were dropping like flies over there.  It was apparent to us early

on that things may have been going very wrong and our assumption was right.  It seemed

every few months we were dealing with someone new who had no idea what our business

model was all about.

 

Besides that, Huddler was more interested in signing sites up than maintaining them once

they were onboard.  It was impossible for us to get software problems and needed enhancements

taken care of.  

 

From beginning to end we were constantly lied to and deceived.  

 

Wish you could have gotten your money before things really went south over there.


 

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#34 of 43 OFFLINE   jauburn

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Posted August 26 2014 - 05:56 AM

Wish you could have gotten your money before things really went south over there.

 

That's okay. I approached the whole thing without a great deal of expectation. I don't count my chickens before they're hatched, in other words. There was actually a bit of relief when the deal feel through, or rather when Huddler never produced a contract, because I knew that my users would have revolted once they saw the Huddler platform, how slow it was, etc.

 

But before I finally sold my forum, I did spend some time wishing I had just jumped at Huddler's first offer and moved on. It's a lot of work to sell a forum, not to mention run one, and at a certain point one just gets worn out, as I'm sure you know. What I found is that if a forum is not growing, it's declining, and to keep it from declining requires one to keep the foot on the gas pretty much at all times. There are those who say that once a forum reaches a tipping point, you can put the thing on cruise control and walk away. That wasn't my experience.

 

The worst part of running a forum, though, for me, was that the hours I put in would never be compensated in any kind of reasonable way, regardless of the sale price. I would have made far more money, if money was ever the issue, by working at McDonald's for all those hours I put into building up the forum. But oh, well. I learned a lot. Would not want to do it again, though. Now I'm happy with a purely nonprofit little forum where I'm as much a user as an owner.


Edited by jauburn, August 26 2014 - 05:57 AM.


#35 of 43 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 26 2014 - 06:46 AM

Awesome comments Jauburn, welcome to HTF.Without knowing a lot of details your posts make it sound like you started your forum as a business first and not out of any particular passion for the subject matter and interest in being a member of the community you built. Sorry if that seems rude of me to say, but with little further information that's how I'm reading it. I mention that because my experience at HTF has shown that the owners here are like those old Hair Club For Men commercials, they aren't just the owners but members here too! =) And that shows through a lot here. It informs everything about HTF. I am a poster at over 20 different sites and I can think of 1-2 of them with owners who are about as passionate and participatory in the community as HTF's are. It's rare but you can recognize it when you see it.And I'm sure it hasn't been easy, anything that relies on ad revenue is a bumpy road that requires you keeping an eye on a lot of gauges, and it's hard to balance the needs of the users with the realities of running a business that eats up bandwidth and servers. Through all of that HTF has always put it's users first, and when the promises of Huddler failed to materialize the owners did their best to get it back on track, and as far as I'm concerned it's better here than ever. I'm proud of them!

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#36 of 43 OFFLINE   jauburn

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Posted August 26 2014 - 07:05 AM

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Without knowing a lot of details your posts make it sound like you started your forum as a business first and not out of any particular passion for the subject matter and interest in being a member of the community you built.

 

Couple of comments. First, I started the board because of a passion for the subject matter. I'm not sure any forum can be successful without an owner who (1) is passionate about the subject, (2) knows a lot about the subject, (3) is driven to an unhealthy degree to succeed, and (4) is willing or perhaps irrationally compelled to sacrifice personal life to the effort required to make a forum succeed.

 

So as to your assumption, you'd be wrong, but I think you'd be wrong if you said that about any owner of a successful forum. It's just a lot of work to make a forum successful, more than most people can imagine or would believe is healthy. I'm not bragging. I'm just saying what I think is reality. Given what I know, I would not wish forum ownership on anyone, and I have only this to say to anyone who thinks about starting a forum: don't. Get a life. Get a job. Do almost anything else.

 

Now, having said all of that, I will add this: My one requirement for myself when I started that forum was that, after an initial period (it was probably a few months), I insisted to myself that the forum would pay for itself through ad revenue or else I would shut it down. The reason was simple: running, growing, and marketing the darn forum was simply too much work for me to be *paying for it* in addition. I used the market, in other words, as my yardstick, my validation that what I was pouring an insane number of hours into was actually viable in a business sense, beyond whatever enjoyment I might have gotten out of it, whatever competitive pleasure I took in seeing it grow and compete with the big boys.

 

So I'll conclude with this: Regardless of how much passion you start a forum with, as an owner you eventually become something else. You become a business person. You start looking at things that most users never imagine or know about. That's probably how most successful businesses go. They start with passion but turn into jobs.

 

One of the great pleasures, in fact, of being a *former owner* is that I can now enjoy forums, once again.


Edited by jauburn, August 26 2014 - 07:09 AM.


#37 of 43 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted August 26 2014 - 07:53 AM

Gotcha. I assure you there are plenty of fora out there (even successful/popular ones) where the owner's voices are missing. They may be doing a ton of work behind the scenes but you never get the feeling they really contribute to the conversation, or even enjoy doing so. Worse, companies like Huddler are capitalizing on the idea that you can turnkey this stuff which seems ludicrous but there it is... Sounds like that wasn't your route but again I assure you they are out there. =)Again welcome to HTF and I personally thank ya for sharing your experiences!

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#38 of 43 OFFLINE   jauburn

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Posted August 26 2014 - 11:01 AM

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Gotcha. I assure you there are plenty of fora out there (even successful/popular ones) where the owner's voices are missing. They may be doing a ton of work behind the scenes but you never get the feeling they really contribute to the conversation

 

Their voices may indeed be missing for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with their passion for the forum. I can rattle off just a few possible reasons for you, in addition to the one you mention (too busy doing a ton of work behind the scenes). First, when you're identified as "owner," you change in the eyes of the community. You have to wear an owner hat, so to speak, and that can actually hamper the growth of the forum, depending upon the community in question. So some owners keep a low profile on purpose. Some owners, too (perhaps many), have multiple personalities on the forums they own. In fact, creating multiple logons is an old getting-a-forum-started-on-a-shoestring trick that you'll routinely hear mentioned on admin forums as a way to generate "activity" where this is, in fact, very little. So those sites where you perceive the owner to be missing may, in fact, be frequented by the owner on a daily basis.

 

Sometimes, too, being widely known as an owner on a site can invite all kinds of headaches from users who like knowing who the "chief nanny" on the site is so that they can moan, bitch, and complain by PM or other means about other users or you-name-it. In such a case, it might therefore have made good sense for an owner to go underground, so to speak, in order to make his/her life as forum owner bearable. I'll put this another way: One of the perhaps unexpected roles that you adopt as an owner of a popular site is that of counselor/psychologist/student of human behavior. The duties of an owner, in other words, go on and on, and there are a number of reasons why it can actually behoove not only the owner but the site as a whole for the owner to keep a low profile--and maybe even to "rarely show up," at least ostensibly.

 

I could go on and on, but I won't.

 

Thanks for the welcome. I'm afraid I'm not much of a home theater enthusiast. I just signed up because I thought I had something to add to this topic. I'm at a stage in life where downsizing and decluttering are paramount, and my idea of a great tv is one that doesn't take up much space. They don't even seem to make TVs small enough for me these days. ;)



#39 of 43 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 26 2014 - 11:13 AM

Well, your comments are certainly much appreciated and quite interesting to those of us who have been close to the various transitions over the past few years...even IF you don't like big TVs:laugh:

 

Thanks!  :thumbsup:


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#40 of 43 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted August 26 2014 - 11:17 AM

They don't even seem to make TVs small enough for me these days. ;)

 

You need a projector and roll down screen, they won't take up much space, the trouble is you also need a darkened room.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

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"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

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